NEBRASKA DRUG OVERDOSE AWARENESS WEEK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Hallie Schimenti, Nebraska Pharmacists Association, 402-420-1500; Jean Hammack, Nebraska Regional Poison Center, 800-222-1222; Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation, 402-434-2740
Lincoln, NE (August 8, 2018) – At a ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol on August 6, 2018, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts declared August 27-September 2, 2018 Nebraska Drug Overdose Awareness Week.
Each year, over 289 million prescriptions for painkillers are written in the United States. The widespread use of prescription painkillers has resulted in an increase in addiction, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths throughout the country. In Nebraska, drug overdoses have tripled since 1999, with 81% of all poisoning deaths caused by drugs and medications. Unused medications can fall into the wrong hands and lead to accidental poisoning or misuse, making it vital to safely and properly dispose of medications.
“Every day is Take-Back Day in Nebraska,” said Hallie Schimenti, Project Coordinator for the Nebraska MEDS Initiative. She says that August 31st was established as International Drug Overdose Awareness Day to increase public knowledge about the severity of drug misuse, and “Nebraska Drug Overdose Awareness Week is aimed at making the public aware that they can take unused and expired medications back to the pharmacy any day of the year.”
“We hope that this proclamation will elevate the message and encourage each of us to do what we can to play an active role to raise awareness about drug overdoses in Nebraska.”
Over 330 pharmacies across Nebraska participate in the Nebraska MEDS Initiative and will take back medications free of charge and no questions asked. These pharmacies accept medications for safe and legal disposal, giving consumers an easy and safe method of keeping medications out of the environment and from falling into the wrong hands. Find a participating pharmacy near you at www.leftovermeds.com.
In the signed proclamation, Governor Pete Ricketts urges citizens to visit a Nebraska MEDS participating pharmacy and dispose of any leftover or expired medications in their home, as it protects the citizens and community from accidental poisoning and overdose.
When flushed, put down the drain, or thrown in the trash, over-the-counter and prescription medications can contaminate water supplies. Most water treatment facilities do not have the capacity to remove these emerging contaminants. Instead of flushing or trashing those old medications, take them to a Nebraska MEDS Initiative pharmacy – find one online at www.leftovermeds.com.
“Since the MEDS initiative went statewide in 2016, over 61,000 pounds of medications have been returned to pharmacies across the state,” Schimenti said. “The Coalition is a great mix of state, local, and community organizations representing a variety of stakeholders in the medication disposal issue.”
The Nebraska MEDS initiative is funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Legislature. The Nebraska Medication Education on Disposal Strategies (MEDS) Coalition educates Nebraskans about drug disposal and provides safe ways to dispose of them to better safeguard the environment and protect public health. The Coalition includes the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, The Groundwater Foundation, Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Police Department, Coalition Rx, Lincoln Public School Nurses, LiveWise Coalition, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Medical Association, AARP of Nebraska, Nebraska Pharmacy Foundation, Nebraska Regional Poison Center, Safe Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County, KETV, Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and Nebraska State Patrol.